San Bernardino County enjoys the distinction of possessing the main lines of two transcontinental railroads the Southern Pacific, and the Atlantic & Pacific, more popularly known as the Santa Fe. The Southern Pacific was the pioneer road, completing its bed through these parts in 1876. This road crosses the extreme southwest corner of the county, running east and west. It affords shipping facilities to numerous prosperous towns and settlements, the centers of wide areas of rich fruit and agricultural lands. It has some forty-eight miles of track operating within the confines of the county, which, together with 206 miles of roadbed leased to the Atlantic & Pacific, has an assessed value in round numbers of $3,000,000. During the busiest part of the year, the Southern Pacific receives sufficient freight, the product of the county, at Colton, to place that town third on the coast in importance as to east-bound shipments.
The line which the Southern Pacific in 1879 leased to the Atlantic & Pacific intersects the county almost centrally, extending east and west. It traverses a portion of the country not attractive to the eye, but immensely rich in mineral deposits, which have already added vastly to the wealth of the country, although their development is scarcely begun as yet. The Atlantic & Pacific has rolling stock and improvements whose assessed value is nearly $73,000. This road has a connecting line of the Southern California railway system making junction at Barstow.
The first direct rail communication between San Bernardino and the Eastern States was effected in 1887.
In 1883 the Southern California Railway was built between San Bernardino and San Diego, and in 1885 it was extended to Barstow. At first this line suffered severely, indeed, was rendered almost inactive, by heavy washouts, but eventually it rallied from the disastrous results of these misfortunes.
Five different routes of the Santa Fe system now run daily trains into San Bernardino.
The overland route, which runs north and east via Barstow and The Needles to join the main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe at Albuquerque, brings enormous numbers of immigrants and excursionists hither yearly. The excursions are an especial feature of this line, offering every inducement of comfort and con-venience to the visitor.
The California Central is a branch road, running between San Bernardino and Los Angeles. This line was built in 1887. It traverses with its leased lines some sixty miles of the county’s choicest territory, running westward along the foothills of the San Bernardino and Sierra Madre ranges, to Los Angeles and Ballona Harbor. It is placed at such an elevation that it over-looks all the way southward the broad charming valley of this beautiful section. Along this route have sprung up the little towns of Rialto, North Cucamonga, and North Ontario, besides a number of other small towns which are situated in Los Angeles County. A spur of this line, known as the Valley road, extends to Redlands and Mentone. The assessed value of this road, with rolling stock and improvements, is $357,000.
The California Southern finds a northerly course from the San Diego County line through this county to its junction with the Atlantic & Pacific at Barstow. It lacks one-fourth of a mile of having 100 miles of main track. In round numbers, a valuation of $522,000 is placed upon its rights and property. This road, with the California Central, is operated by the California Southern Railway Company.
The machine shops, etc., of the Santa Fe line at San Bernardino were erected at a cost of $50,000, with stock and machinery, and the company pays out to its employees here the sum of $40,000, all of which goes into circulation in this section.
It is expected that this county will have shortly another transcontinental railroad, as the Union Pacific is pushing the Utah Southern in this direction with great activity. Its objective point is believed to be Barstow, whence it will run its trains over the Santa Fe lines to all points in Southern California; and then, it is believed, it will unite with the Atlantic & Pacific road, and build up the coast from Mohave to San Francisco. This read will open up a country rich in lumber, coal, and valuable mines.
The Southern California motor road was built from San Bernardino to Colton, a distance of three and one-half miles, in November 1886, and in the last year the company extended it eight and a half miles to Riverside, making twelve miles now in operation. This company has now four and one-half miles of streetcar road in San Bernardino, the plant costing a total of $152,000, and they contemplate putting about $35,000 in additional extensions. This line runs twelve trains each way daily.
The San Bernardino, Arrowhead & Waterman Narrow-Gauge Company completed its road to Harlem Hot Springs, a distance of four miles, in June last, and also a mile of street railway in the city, to be operated connection with the narrow gauge road. They contemplate extending the road throughout the valley and up Waterman canon to the summit, to tap the timber belt, and ultimately to continue the extension to the Bear valley resort. At present they have on hand material for two miles more of road, and their total investment thus far is about $75,000, all subscribed by residents of San Bernardino. At present travel by this line is suspended.
The San Bernardino & Redlands motor rail-road was projected by Oscar Newburg, who, in connection with W. J. Curtis and W. D. Crandall, organized the San Bernardino & Redlands Railroad Company, and obtained the franchise from the board of supervisors in the summer of 1887. The capital stock of the company was fixed at $200,000, divided into 200 shares of $1,000 each. Work was commenced on the line in December of that year, and the first passenger train was run over the road June 5, 1888. The line extends from the crossing of Third and E streets, in San Bernardino, to the center of the business portion of Redlands, and is a little more than ten miles in length.
The road and its equipments cost a little more than $100,000, and the roadbed is one of the finest in the country. The property is entirely free from debt. The train makes five round trips daily, and connects with the trains on the Southern California motor railroad for Colton and Riverside and the Southern Pacific transcontinental line at the former place via that road. It leads through a rich section of the country and a grossing community, including old San Bernardino, and while it is already a good paying property its future prospect gives sure promise of its becoming one of the most profitable investments to its stockholders of all pieces of property in Southern California. The board of directors is composed of Oscar Newburg, Lewis Jacobs, W. J. Curtis, Daniel Rath- bun and George E. Otis. The officers are Oscar Newburg, President; W. J. Curtis, Vice President; T. J. Wilson, Secretary and Superintendent.
Oscar Newborn, president of the above railroad company, and president of the city council of San Bernardino, is a native of Prussia, where he was born forty years ago. He came to America and settled in San Bernardino in 1863, and has been actively connected with the business interests ever since. Starting as a clerk in a store he soon became proprietor in a grain and shipping business. Later he engaged in general merchandising, from which he has now retired. He was elected to the city council in 1887 for a term of four years, and was chosen president in May, 1889, in which capacity he is still serving.
The Chino Valley Narrow-Gauge railway owned by Richard Gird, Esq., of the Chino Rancho, was built between Ontario and Chino, a distance of five and a half miles, and put in operation in June, 1888. Since then it has been extended four and a half miles to Harrington, and it will be continued to tidewater at Newport. It is a forty-two-inch-gauge road, and it has cost, thus far, about $75,000. It makes three trips daily between Ontario and Chino.
These three lines are all at present operated by horsepower, but arrangements are in progress for the use of electricity in their operation.
Thus it will be seen that there are in the county thirty-two and a half miles of motor and narrow-gauge railroads, constructed during 1883-’89, at a cost of some $300,000; and twenty-seven miles of electric railways, built also at a cost of $122,000.
Standard-gauge railroad building has been less active during the year immediately past than during the preceding one; but the indications point to renewed activity during the corning year.
During the past season the Pomona & South Riverside Road was graded, and the San Bernardino Valley Road was opened for traffic, being ten miles long, with five daily passenger trains each way.
There are now 528 miles of standard-gauge railroad in operation in this county.
Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.